Harriet Harman

Diary – 12 November 2015

I still hope Labour wins the argument. But I’m happy to be listening to the Today programme, not speaking on it

One of my constituents has been in an Indonesian prison since May. Journalist Rebecca Prosser was arrested with her colleague Neil Bonner while working on a documentary for National Geographic about piracy in the Malaccan Strait. Their visas hadn’t come through when filming started and they were arrested by the Indonesian navy and locked up in a prison with 1,400 men and 30 women. The family had been warned that publicity would only make things worse so I have been working behind the scenes to try to get her home. I’ve been ambushing Philip Hammond and Hugo Swire as they come out of the division lobby after 10 p.m. votes, urging them to get our embassy in Jakarta to visit the prison, and leaping on Richard Graham MP,chair of the all-party parliamentary group on Indonesia. After six months of worry, an email from Rebecca’s sister arrives. The court has found them guilty, but with the time they’ve already served, and a fine paid, they can come home. Great news and huge relief all round.

To King’s College Hospital to meet some of the junior doctors. Every few seconds bleepers and phones go off and the doctors dash out on urgent calls. How different from my usual meetings there with the management, when it’s tea and biscuits and a rigid agenda. The junior doctors, in their late thirties with stethoscopes around their necks, are passionate about the NHS, their medical research, and, most of all, the care they give their patients. There was a psychiatrist, an anaesthetist, a geriatrician, a paediatrician and a number of acute medics. They are seriously brainy, committed professionals and we should all be falling down in gratitude to them — their long years of study, professionalism and downright stamina! With Australia and pharmaceutical companies trying to lure them away, it’s mad to be cutting their pay.

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